County councils denounce ‘short-term’ fixes to social care crisis

16 Jan 17

Proposals to stem the social care funding crisis through an increased council tax precept and diverting New Homes Bonus funds are only short-term fixes, county councils have said.

In their response to the provisional local government finance settlement, submitted on 13 January, the County Council Network said a long-term solution was needed to resolve the “fundamental mismatch” between funding and demand for social care.

Network chair Paul Carter said: “While rerouting some New Homes Bonus money is a logical step and a recognition of the immediacy of the crisis’ impact on elderly residents, the measures announced provide minimal support to those under greatest pressure, leaving upper-tier authorities at a significant crossroads.

“Unless we have genuinely new funding, services the sick, elderly, and vulnerable depend on will continue to have a question mark hanging over them.”

The March Budget offered an opportunity to release some fresh funding to the sector, he said, which would provide a platform to integrate services and stabilise care market. Carter urged the government to rebalance the “gross underfunding” of county councils, which have seen a 37% real-terms cut since 2010.

“Empowered county authorities must play a key part in fixing the social care funding crisis. They must be trusted to lead the integration drive, and government must build upon counties’ expertise, financial prudence, and size to deliver fundamental reform as part of a long-term solution.”

Last week, the District Councils Network also submitted its response to the settlement, citing the changes to New Homes Bonus, which it predicted would have an adverse effect on housebuilding.

The government is expected to publish the final settlement next month.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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